The Jerusalem District Court ruled on Monday to postpone the evidentiary stage of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial until after the upcoming elections.
The hearings will begin after March 23 polls and will take place Mondays through Wednesdays from 9am to 3:30pm, starting April 5.
Netanyahu, the first Israeli prime minister to be indicted while in office, was charged last year over allegations that he accepted improper gifts and sought to trade regulatory favors with media moguls in exchange for positive coverage.
He is charged with fraud and breach of trust in three cases, and bribery in one of them, allegations which he denies.
The combative 71-year-old prime minister blasted the charges as "fabricated and ludicrous" ahead of his first court appearance in May 2020, and has claimed to be the victim of a witch-hunt.
Repeatedly suggesting the charges against him have been trumped up, Netanyahu has taken direct aim at his hand-picked attorney general and former cabinet secretary, Avichai Mandelblit, who issued the indictments in November 2019.
The three-judge panel also criticized Mandelblit and the State Prosecutor after both parties failed to provide the court with written approval from the attorney general to initiate investigative steps against a sitting prime minister, as sanctioned by Basic Law: The Judiciary and Basic Law: The Government — two of Israel's constitution-like ground laws, and only provided verbal approval for such moves.
After the end of the evidentiary stage, the judges will consider whether there is justification for disqualifying evidence received before Mandelblit gave his approval to launch the investigation against Netanyahu.
The judges rejected Netanyahu's request to throw out the indictment due to the attorney general's misconduct in two of the cases, dubbed Case 1000 and Case 4000.
Case 1000 alleges Netanyahu has received expensive gifts worth up to NIS 1 million from Israeli-American producer Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer.
Case 2000 concerns alleged discussions between Netanyahu and the publisher of Ynet's parent company, the Yedioth Ahronoth group Arnon Mozes over positive media coverage in return for Netanyahu weakening Yedioth's main rival the Sheldon Adelson-owned Israel Hayom.
Case 4000 involves an alleged plan to ease regulations for telecommunications mogul Shaul Elovitch in return for positive coverage on his Walla! news website.